Innovation America Innovation America Accelerating the growth of the GLOBAL entrepreneurial innovation economy
Founded by Rich Bendis

innovation DAILY

Here we highlight selected innovation related articles from around the world on a daily basis.  These articles related to innovation and funding for innovative companies, and best practices for innovation based economic development.

SSTI Weekly Digest

In response to dwindling state funding and concerns related to leadership, focus and productivity in the state's current economic development model, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced the creation of a new quasi-public state agency to focus on targeted industries such as solar, science, technology, aerospace, and defense to help the state grow jobs and remain globally competitive. The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) would replace the Arizona Department of Commerce, but does not assume all of its current functions. In addition to an annual appropriation from the general fund or another dedicated state funding source, private sector funds would be used to support the marketing efforts of the ACA. These funds come from a 1.5 percent fee charged to companies accessing certain state incentive programs. Read the press release or the  full report from the Governor's Commerce Advisory Council.

The Kauffman Foundation (H/T The Scientist) points to the Carolina Express Licensing Agreement (CELA) as an idea worth pursuing at other institutions.  As the Foundation outlines in a paper released this week, the CELA was developed in a collaborative effort between University of North Carolina faculty, technology transfer officials, and venture capitalists.  A standardized agreement runs counter to advise from the Association of University Technology Managers, which recommends that any technology transfer agreement must be customized due to its unique circumstances.  However, digging further into the agreement and the report, I’m not sure the two perspectives are in great conflict with each other.

The focus of the CELA is not on agreements between existing companies and the university, but between the university and faculty seeking to form start-up companies. Some may argue that in the realm of licensing this distinction doesn’t matter that much, but I’d point out that existing companies have the potential to organize in industrial groups and otherwise exert some influence on policymakers to help make sure their interests are given appropriate consideration.

Read more ...

President Obama’s budget request for fiscal year 2011 would direct $32.2 billion to the National Institutes of Health. That’s a boost of about 3.2 percent over the baseline budget from the previous year, and last week a coalition of 25 governors from across the country sent a letter to congressional representatives explaining the benefits of the investment and urging that they incorporate it into the final budget due later this fall.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act directed an additional one-time stimulus of $10 billion to NIH last year, a sum that helped offset the flat funding for the agency from 2004 to 2008. But “flat” actually meant that the NIH saw the purchasing power of its inflation-adjust budget dip 13 percent over that period.

In the letter, the governors point out that their states received $19 billion in grants from NIH last year, and funding from the agency directly supports 350,000 jobs around the country.

But most importantly, the governors write that the “greatest contribution NIH makes is to the health and well-being of Americans.” The agency funds research on everything from vaccines to cancer therapies—from investigations into the genetic roots of disease to the traumatic brain injuries suffered by U.S. combat troops.

Read more ...

READ: University Entrepreneurship at MIT

The primary goals for most universities across the country are to teach and/or to research, but many are not able to translate these resources to efficiently benefit the economy and society on a greater scale. So why is it so important for a research university to be entrepreneurial? It is important because universities have always been a key factor to the innovation of any economy, and it is the responsibility of these institutions to transition into an increasingly entrepreneurial economy. Also, since universities have always been at the forefront of discovery, it is their obligation to use the vast resources they have to find solutions to the most difficult problems. An entrepreneurial university takes these resources and solutions and attempts to implement them in the most efficient and sustainable way. Now the question remains: “How does an institution behave as entrepreneurial?” To answer this problem we must analyze the successes of past models looking at the very beginning. This essay looks to the original MIT model and its success to help understand what is required to create an entrepreneurial university.

First, we must recognize what made MIT such a perfect fit to be, what is considered, the first entrepreneurial university. Rory P. O’Shea from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believes his university’s “success is based on the science and engineering resource base at MIT; the quality of research faculty; supporting organisational mechanisms and policies such as MIT’s Technology Licensing Office; and the culture within MIT faculty that encourages entrepreneurship.” The first factor he mentions is vital to any research university. Having a strong “science and engineering resource base” such as the one at MIT is the first step an entrepreneurial university must reach. By achieving this goal the university can effectively produce valuable research. This element is closely tied with a high quality research faculty which is also required to create new technologies. The next component according to Rory P. O’Shea is the need of for a well coordinated support system for emerging research and an effective licensing office. The management of these technologies has always been a key aspect of entrepreneurship which is clearly explained in Peter F. Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This management allows MIT to prioritize and to allocate their resources effectively. As far as the MIT Technology Licensing Office goes, Rory P. O’Shea credits its success to the quickness, organization, and guidance of the system. He says,

“Rather than waiting for a technology pull, reacting to requests for licenses from interested companies, the TLO (Technology Licensing Office) encouraged faculty to promptly disclose inventions, then quickly and carefully evaluate the market value of inventions, and obtain protection of intellectual property. It also meets with venture capitalists to discuss new technologies and ongoing research at the Institute that may be appropriate for a start-up venture. This approach began at MIT at a time when such an approach was viewed as ‘unseemly’ by some of MIT’s peer institutions.”

Read more ... to Senator Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) reform bill will allow for efficient capital access for entrepreneurs and also provide fraud protection for investors

East Hartford, April 21, 2010 – The Connecticut Technology Council supports two amendments that will be offered by Sen. Christopher Dodd on the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. These amendments will ensure that high growth entrepreneurs have access to a strong pool of angel capital and that investors are better protected from fraud.

CTC has been working with Dodd’s banking staff along with a number of other national pro-entrepreneurship policy support groups, most notably the Angel Capital Association (ACA) based in Kansas City, MO, to make its member’s concerns known about earlier versions of the bill.

According to many experts and especially the Angel investor community, two of the original bill’s sections had the potential of significantly reducing the number of accredited angel investors and also of creating complicated and potentially expensive regulations for entrepreneurs raising angel financing.

Read more ...

Leslie Christian
Founder, Upstream 21 & Portfolio 21, Seattle
"Small companies are critical to the future of our communities," says Leslie Christian, 62—so she helped concoct an innovative way to support them. Upstream 21, whose board she chairs, is a Portland-based regional holding company that acquires and supports small, locally focused, privately held companies in the Pacific Northwest—currently, three forest-products companies that are embracing sustainable practices. Right from the drafting of its foundational document, Upstream 21 aimed to break away from business as usual: "Our corporate charter specifically states that the best interests of employees, customers, suppliers, the community, and the environment must be balanced with those of the shareholders over both the short and long term," Christian explains. She is also president and CEO of Portfolio 21 Investments, which specializes in environmentally and socially responsible investing, offering a "healthy," if not hefty, return on investment. (Watch Christian explain the Upstream 21 vision here.)

Mike Mathieu
Founder, Front Seat, Seattle
After working at Microsoft and founding an Internet publishing firm, Mike Mathieu, 41, decided to put his software smarts to work for the greater social good. Seattle-based Front Seat, which he founded and chairs, has launched "civic software" projects like Walk Score, which shows you how "walkable" any given US address is, (Grist HQ scores a whopping 98 out of 100—a "Walkers' Paradise"), and City-Go-Round, which spotlights innovative public transit apps like Exit Strategy NYC, which shows you exactly where you should stand on the subway platform to arrive directly in front of the exit at your destination (brilliant). Walk Score has already started to change the way the real-estate industry thinks about walkability; its scores have been incorporated into sites like as well as many agents' individual listings, giving prospective homebuyers more info about the kinds of neighborhoods and lifestyles they might be buying into.

Read more ... the last 20 years, politicians, diplomats, and green activists alike have assumed that dealing with global warming would require a United Nations agreement on the transfer of clean energy technologies from rich countries to poor ones. But U.S. policymakers and firms feared that tech transfer was code for tech piracy: China already steals billions of dollars worth of American intellectual property annually--from Microsoft Office CDs to Avatar DVDs--so why would we give away our next generation of solar panels and wind turbines?

"Developing countries, like China and India, see climate change as an opportunity to gain free access to American [intellectual-property rights]," thundered Sen. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., before the Copenhagen talks in 2009, "but far from mitigating climate change, relaxation of IPR would ruin our only hope of responding."

Some business executives and economists have even argued that nations needed stronger, not weaker, intellectual-property laws. If China might reverse-engineer and more cheaply manufacture a breakthrough solar panel or nuclear plant from the United States, then there would be no point for investors to spend their money on development in the first place. "Why would anybody invest in anything that they would have to just give away?" a General Electric executive asked.

Read more ...

In discussing employee-driven innovation, having a technology platform to deliver on objectives is a key part of a company’s strategy. Hard to get everyone tuned in when you rely only on email and conversations with your cubicle mates. But that’s just one factor. There are many other considerations for companies seeking to vault to the top of their industries through greater innovation.

One set of characteristics are what I term factors of “emergent” innovation. I use emergent here in the sense of conditions which let good ideas find their level inside a company, regardless of source. Think of this as an alternative to R&D-led innovation, or innovations decided solely in the executive suite and cast down for implementation by the troops.

Of course, there are more than six factors to emergent innovation. For instance, the actual process of turning someone’s idea into an innovation project has several factors of its own. But these six are a good start.

This post is long. The links below will take you directly to a specific section.

  1. Healthy use of doubt
  2. Rough alternatives
  3. Experiments
  4. Resource margin
  5. Positive deviants
  6. Diversity of viewpoints
Read more ...

Home In this WebMemo ITIF finds there has been impressive domestic growth of high-skill, high-wage IT jobs over the past ten years. ITIF’s analysis shows there were 688,000 new IT jobs created from 1999-2008, an increase of 26 percent – four times faster than U.S. employment as a whole. The addition of thousands of high-end jobs in the areas of network design and administration as well as data communications analysis and engineering more than offset lower level programming jobs that have moved to other countries. Because of this job growth, U.S. GDP is over $52 billion larger in 2008 than in 1999. The memo reinforces the need to maintain investment in this area. The advent and expansion of new IT systems such as health IT and smart grids, the continued expansion of broadband, and the growth of e-commerce and e-government, show the importance of IT jobs to the U.S. economy going forward.

More encouraging, IT jobs are predicted to grow even further in the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, between 2008 and 2018, overall employment throughout the economy is anticipated to grow by 10.7 percent, whereas employment in IT occupations is expected to grow by 24 percent or 790,000 jobs. Broken down by occupations BLS expects:

* Computer Network and database Administrators to grow by 286,600 jobs;
* Computer Systems Analysts to grow by 108,100 jobs;
* Computer Software Engineers to grow by 295,000 jobs;
* Computer Programmers to decline by 12,000 jobs;
* Computer Support Specialists to grow by 78,000 jobs;
* Computer Scientists to grow by 7,000 jobs.

Read more ...

Note to President Obama: Future job growth is all about brain power. Over the next decade, the best jobs are going to go to the cities with the industries and the entrepreneurial incentives in place to support a highly educated, tech-savvy workforce. Want to know where, exactly? We dug through Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, interviewed a host of regional economists, and examined industry trends. In the end, we came up with ten hot spots where jobs will likely grow in the double digits between now and 2018. All are home to notable research institutions; all have solid technology based sectors; six out of ten are state capitals -- if you count Minneapolis, St. Paul's twin city, and the big kahuna of capitals, Washington D.C. -- and each one is a great place to live.

Read more ...

What is the state of our planet, its health and the impact humans have had upon it? Based on maps from the Atlas of Global Conservation, Scientific American brings you the global perspective on our planet in this multimedia presentation.


This is the Earth. We share this planet with nearly two million species of plants and animals. At least, that's how many have been identified so far. Scientists still routinely discover new species.

As the following maps from the Atlas of Global Conservation reveal, humans are responsible for some 140,000 species disappearing each year. That's why some scientists call the present era the Anthropocene, or the era of humanity. We are the dominant force on the planet—for good and for ill.

One of the primary reasons for this is numbers. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were only one and half billion people on the planet. Today, there are nearly seven billion. Population growth rates have slowed, but we can expect nine billion people by 2050.

Read more ...